Amazon Fire Review: $50 Tablet Good for All, Better for Prime Members

by Reads (10,153)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 6
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 6
    • Usability
    • 6
    • Design
    • 5
    • Performance
    • 5
    • Features
    • 6
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 9
    • Total Score:
    • 6.14
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Overview

  • Pros

    • Ridiculously cheap
    • Great for Prime Users
    • Efficient battery
  • Cons

    • Bogs down a bit too easily
    • Useless cameras
    • Cheap build

Quick Take

The Amazon Fire won’t win any awards, but at $50 it doesn’t have to. This is a perfectly serviceable tablet for casual use and consuming Amazon stuff.

The $50 price point is typically reserved for the generic Android tablets that populate drugstore shelves and the Black Friday bargain bin. These tablets are terrible and aren’t worth a few bucks, let alone fifty.

Amazon hopes to change that with its new Fire tablet. We’ve described past Amazon Fire tablets as “budget but brand name,” but with this device, Amazon is taking things to a new low… in regards to price, that is.

Can this $50 tablet be any good? Read on to find out.

Build & Design

The Amazon Fire doesn't have a great display, but it works.

The Amazon Fire doesn’t have a great display, but it works.

The Amazon Fire is very plain, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It only comes in black, although Amazon offers several colorful cases. It feels solid at first, but its cheap plastic body gives with moderate pressure. It also feels a little clunky. At 0.4 inches, it’s thick for a 7-inch device, and fairly heavy at 0.7 pounds. Amazon claims that the Fire held up twice as well as the iPad Air 2 in tumble tests, which is a good thing because the plastic isn’t the grippiest of materials.

The display bezel reveals the design compromises Amazon made to achieve the Fire’s cheap price. It extends about half an inch on each side of the display, and looks like it belongs on a laptop, adding the Fire’s general clunkiness.

There is one speaker located on the back of the device, which is an odd placement. Laying the Fire down will muffle the sound coming from the already poor speaker. Turning the volume all the way up causes the sound to become scratchy, and there is minimal bass. Headphones are definitely the better option here.

Display

The Amazon Fire is a bulky tablet.

The Amazon Fire is a bulky tablet.

The Fire’s 7-inch (1024 x 600) display isn’t anything to write home about, but it works. At 170 pixels per inch, it matches the pixel density of tablets dating back to 2011. That said, this is the best you can expect for $50. The IPS display is helped by nicely saturated colors and a reasonably bright screen.

Weak contrast and glare make the Fire display difficult to see outdoors, but it does have decent viewing angles.

Buttons & Ports

The Amazon Fire keeps the button layout simple, which also makes it a little odd. Everything except the microSD slot is located on the top of the tablet. This includes the volume controls, power button, headphone jack, and microUSB port.

Some of the ports are noticeably cheap. Plugging in the microUSB charger requires a lot of force, so much so that we were scared of breaking part of the charger. The cover for the micro SD slot is very flimsy and feels like a strong gust of wind will break it off. This is another place where Amazon cut corners.



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